Net/Rom Node Information for the Sysop - Part Eight

by Andy Nemec, KB9ALN

This is part 8 of a series designed to help node Sysops learn more about the popular TheNet X-1J series of nodes. We'll skip over the more common user commands and devote our discussion to commands used by the Sysop. In this part, we'll look at the HOST, HOSTALIAS, INFO, and IPADDRESS commands.

HOST

This command is an interesting one in that it offers a couple of interesting options. You can think of it as being exactly like the BBS command, but it also has an additional option that can make for an interesting node configuration.

In the customary multiple-node ("Nodestack") configuration, the RS-232 ports of each TNC are connected together so that one node can connect to another. For example, you can have a VHF LAN node connected to a UHF Backbone node, and a user can connect from one node to another. The serial port can also be connected to a computer, so that the node's parameters can be manipulated on-site.

One can also connect a serial printer up to this port. In this case, a remote user can ussue the "HOST" command and can send a message to the attached computer or printer. This feature, while interesting and novel, probably would not see any use in typical node installations.

It is more likely to be used in the same manner that the BBS command is used. When this command is issued by a user, they will be connected to a designated BBS or TCP/IP station. The connection will be made to the AX.25 or Net/Rom (Node) port of the BBS or IP station. The Sysop command syntax is identical to the BBS command syntax for the Sysop, when connected to the node in the Sysop mode. Here's a command summarry:

HOST ?

will return the current call-sign of the designated host or BBS, or return with the response "HOST is not set".

HOST *

will clear the existing HOST entry. As a matter of habit it is probably best to issue this command first, to make certain you flush out the existing entry.

HOST WX9APR

would set the designated host to WX9APR. A user who issues the HOST command would be connected to this BBS. If this is set to an alias, Net/Rom connection is made, otherwise it is a standard AX.25 connection.

HOSTALIAS

This operates identically to the BBSALIAS and DXALIAS commands. If the node is set up to respond to additional aliases, it will answer on behalf of the designated HOST and connect the user to it, acting as an intermediary. To the user, this will appear as a direct connection, even though it really isn't. Here's the command syntax:

HOSTALIAS *

clears the current HOSTALIAS entry. You can use it to flush out the old entry when changing to a new HOSTALIAS for example, or when you've made a typo and need to re-enter the HOSTALIAS.

HOSTALIAS WX9APR

Sets the HOSTALIAS to WX9APR. If a user's packet station attempts to connect to WX9APR, the node will answer for WX9APR and make a connection to that station. A valid alias can also be used, for example, IPBBS. This way, the node can make connections to 3 different service-oriented BBSs - the customary "normal" BBS, a local DXCluster, and an IP-oriented BBS named as a Host.

INFO

This is familiar to most Node operators. It sets what the user will see when he or she issues the INFO (or "I" abbreviation). Usually, this is the location, sponsor of the node, maybe the grid square and perhaps other information.

The command syntax is identical to the BTEXT and CTEXT commands, and also has the same size limitation - 80 characters including spaces and control-characters. The command syntax is the same:

INFO *

clears the current text. If you want to completely change the text, rather than just add to it, this is the command you would use.

Sending the following to the node:

INFO WAPR Network Node in Thimble Creek, Wi - 145.090 VHF LAN

changes the info text so that the user will see this when he or she issues the Info (or "I") command:

WITHIM:WX9APR-1} WAPR Network Node in Thimble Creek, Wi - 145.090 VHF LAN

It's helpful for packet operators to have this information when the node sysop has taken the time to enter it. In instances where it hasn't been set, the traveling packet operatior does not know where they've "landed", so to speak.

IPADDRESS

As you'd expect, this sets the IP Address of the node, quite simply. IP Addresses are assigned by IP address coordinators to packet operators that request them. They are free - there is no charge for obtaining one.

In Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, we have local IP address coordinators and a State coordinator. If you'd like to obtain an IP address, Mail Me or send a packet message to: [email protected]#GRB.WI.USA.NOAM.

I will either assign you an address, or refer you to your local IP Address coordinator.

IP addresses contain 4 sets of numbers seperated by periods. The numbers range from 0 to 255. IP addresses in the Amateur Packet world all start with 44. In Wisconsin and the UP of Michigan, they all start with 44.92.

For example, my first IP address is 44.92.20.9. The addresses are assigned based upon location and operating frequency. It is important that you do not pick one at random - they must be assigned. In addition, there are certain conventions that follow the internet conventions, and your IP Address coordinator will assign addresses based upon the function of the node. If you do obtain an address for your node, here's how you would set it:

IPADDRESS 44.92.254.1

Sysops or users can see the IP address of the node simply by typing

IPADDRESS

with no other text. The node would then respond with:

My IP address is: 44.92.254.1

Take note that this is example address is not assigned, and it's very important that you not use this particular address - you must only use an address that is assigned to you.

A reminder - we'll cover all of the aspects of setting an X-1J node up for TCP/IP operation at the end of this series. This discussion will center on understanding TCP/IP and how the node treats it. Don't let TCP/IP parameters intimidate you, they're not as difficult to understand as you'd think.

That's all for this part. Next time, we'll continue our alphabetical exploration of the Sysop commands for these nodes.

On to Part 9

Back to Part 7

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